KUCHING (March 22): A total of 45 human rabies cases have been reported in Sarawak since 2017 and only three of the victims survived the disease, disclosed Sarawak Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.
Speaking a press conference announcing the holding of the inaugural ‘Rabies in Borneo (RIB) Conference’ next month, Dr Rundi said rabies is a serious health disease in the state and close cooperation with neighbouring countries is needed to stem the outbreak.
“In the mist of this Covid-19 pandemic, at present, we are also facing the African Swine Fever disease that affected pig farmers across the state, except those in Kuching. All these diseases are actually preventable,” he said.
Dr Rundi said the RIB Conference’s objective was to continue the engagement with the public and related parties in prevention and eradication of the rabies disease in Borneo.
He said the state’s efforts in eliminating rabies had mainly encountered two challenges; namely manpower, particularly on sending personnel to remote longhouses, and communication and awareness issue.
“Rabies is not a disease that we can take lightly and the cases reported in the state to-date had an almost 90 per cent fatality.”
Dr Rundi said a rabies-free state was not impossible and enforcement agencies must be proactive in monitoring the state’s porous borders and carefully look after the animals here.
Speaking on the Covid-19 pandemic, the minister shared that his whole family had been infected with the coronavirus before as both his sons were doctors.
However, he said the Omicron coronavirus variant was more infectious but less fatal and the state had managed to achieve a high vaccination rate against the virus.